Going Higher: Low living costs but a dearth of well-paid jobs

If you are in the 90 per cent of students who work part-time to make ends meet, be aware that the wages in the North are generally dire. Maureen O'Connor investigates

Surveys show that 90 per cent of students do paid work at some time during their course. Working your way through college used to be more of a North American phenomenon but some British universities now report that 60 per cent of their students are working during term time and the majority during holidays.

The days when academics seriously told their students that holidays were for reading seem to have disappeared for ever. But there is evidence that working during term depresses academic performance, so it is something to be approached with caution, especially if you are taking a particularly demanding course or have any other doubts about your ability to cope with the academic work.

Few universities forbid term-time work outright but some limit the number of hours they allow students to work - although policing such rules is difficult. Do not expect tutors to be sympathetic about late essays or poor results, simply because you have a term-time job. The secret is to balance academic and paid work and leave yourself time for a social life, which is part of what going to university has always been about.

Universities that set time limits on paid employment generally fix them at about 10 to 15 hours a week. To avoid any difficulties, find out from your tutor what is expected. Universities and students' unions have accommodated the financial pressure on students by providing some part-time work. Student bars and clubs, university libraries and offices, security work and driving inter-site buses may all be found on campus. Increasingly, unions and universities have set up employment agencies to help students.

For summer jobs the careers service may be able to help. And if you are in a department with a vocational bias, lecturers may know of companies offering part-time opportunities, which in turn could lead to permanent work after graduation.

If you feel you need a job, start looking early. The best ones get snapped up at the beginning of term. Some universities have a waiting list for jobs in the union bar by the end of the first day of term. And do not expect to get rich. Skills such as typing or a language attract the best pay - up to pounds 20 an hour for a translator - but most jobs available to students are unskilled and poorly paid, in bars, fast food outlets, supermarkets and warehouses.

The pay in the north can be dire: the minimum wage of pounds 3.60 sounds good to many students earning between pounds 2 and pounds 3 an hour in part-time manual jobs. But many may still fail to get as much as that because are too young to qualify for the minimum wage. Most students with part-time jobs earn between pounds 30 and pounds 100 a week, which can be seen only as a useful top-up.

Unsocial hours can present difficulties if you find it hard to get up next morning in time for lectures. And for women, getting home safely from work at night may be a problem. Check arrangements for staff safety before committing to an evening job. A taxi home will make a big hole in a small pay packet.

The availability of work may be one of the factors applicants now consider when applying for a university place. If so, it is as well to be aware of the levels of prosperity in the town or city you plan to live in for three or four years. High local unemployment rates affect students just as much as other workers. Low living costs in the north have to be set against high levels of unemployment; and where jobs of any sort are hard to find, pay rates will be as low. Bradford may live up to its claim to be the cheapest student city in the UK, but that has to be balanced against a shortage of jobs and pay rates as low as pounds 2.20 an hour.

Parts of the North-east also have high unemployment; jobs can be hard to find in places as diverse as Liverpool, Huddersfield, Sunderland and Preston in term time and virtually impossible in the summer vacation.

On the other hand, booming Leeds has plenty of work at reasonable rates, most students in Sheffield find work, Newcastle offers some opportunities and Manchester has a reasonable supply of jobs - though pay can be low.

Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
News
Joan Rivers has reportedly been hospitalised after she stopped breathing during surgery
people81-year-old 'stopped breathing' during vocal chord surgery
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

    Structured Finance

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

    SQL Server Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

    C#.NET Developer

    £600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone